Press Room

EMI Classics & Virgin Classics January 2011 releases

Singers and pianists headline the first releases from Virgin Classics and EMI Classics in 2011, beginning with a playfully conceived new album from mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, Gramophone’s 2010 “Artist of the Year.”  Her third solo album for Virgin Classics – Diva, Divo – celebrates the vocal and gender range of the mezzo repertoire, from trouser roles to passionate heroines.  Also new from Virgin Classics this month are Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 22 and 25 performed by David Fray.  Highlights from EMI Classics include: Solatino, a new solo album from Gabriela Montero, featuring repertoire by Latin American composers, notably Ginastera’s powerful Piano Sonata No. 1, and her trademark improvisations; three releases celebrating the 70th birthday of superstar tenor Plácido Domingo, including a DVD of his now-famous baritone role debut at London’s Royal Opera House as Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra; and the complete EMI Classics recordings – in a 36-CD boxed set! – of Samson François, a truly legendary pianist with a cult following. 


Diva, Divo
Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano
Orchestre de L’Opéra National de Lyon / Kazuko Ono
CD and downloads available January 25 from Virgin Classics

Hot on the heels of winning Gramophone magazine’s 2010 Artist of the Year award, this month the vibrant mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato releases her third Virgin Classics solo album – Diva, Divo.  This playfully-conceived recital sees the American singer take full advantage of the vocal and gender range of the mezzo repertoire, voicing not only the eager young men of her many “trouser” roles but also passionate heroines.  With the dramatic flair and vocal acuity of an operatic natural, she sings an array of roles including Massenet’s Chérubin and Ariane, Mozart’s Susanna, Berlioz’s Marguerite, Bellini’s Romeo, and Strauss’s Composer.  Along with DiDonato’s dizzying characterizations, the album explores the same stories in operatic treatments by different composers, so we hear the Figaro story as conceived by both Mozart and Massenet, Faust by Berlioz and Gounod, and Cinderella by Massenet and Rossini.

In her effervescent introductory liner notes to Diva, Divo, DiDonato writes:

“I have always boasted about how wonderful it is to be a mezzo-soprano.  Aside from the obvious Toscas or Salomes I would love to have sung, I have never regretted my slightly longer vocal cords, for this genetic blessing has allowed me to portray a wealth of characters from young boys to princesses, from ardent young men to demented, murderous wives.  A richer tapestry of human emotions would be hard to find, and that translates into sheer fun for me!  It is this exploration of our world, both external and internal, that continually sets me on fire.

“This recording pays homage to the inspired composers and librettists who, through their boundless imaginations and curious minds, forged entirely different musical languages, emotions, and theatrical flavors from the same legend or story.  It pays tribute to the wonderful world of the mezzo-soprano, who has always been called upon to bend the genders, to convince equally in both pants and skirts – sometimes even within the same evening – while hopefully retaining an individual and unique sound.  And this disc gives me the chance to do what I love most: to bring vastly different characters to life and to explore each of their inner journeys.”

DiDonato recorded Diva, Divo in September 2010 with the Orchestra and Chorus of Opéra National de Lyon, conducted by Kazushi Ono (see full track listing below) 

Gramophone encapsulated DiDonato’s appeal, describing her “feistiness – in the sense of ebullience, of being willing to push, of being able to throw herself entirely into a role with all guns blazing, of being able to project a unique personality at the same time as vivid characterizations.”  Besides being named the magazine’s Artist of the Year – an award determined by Gramophone’s readers – DiDonato won for Best Recital disc of 2010, as voted by the magazine’s critics, for her Virgin/EMI album Colbran, the Muse.  Devoted to the fiery arias Rossini composed for his wife, Spanish soprano Isabella Colbran, the recital disc cemented DiDonato’s status as the world’s leading Rossini singer of the moment, scoring high on the Billboard classical chart.  As Gramophone’s senior opera critic, John Steane, observes, on Colbran, the Muse DiDonato sings with “a rare purity of tone, ease on the high Bs, an impressive degree of technical skill, and lively powers of characterization,” proving herself “one of the most delightful artists of our time.”

DiDonato’s performances in the US this winter and spring highlight her remarkable range.  From January 22 to February 5 she reprises the role of Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (she made her New York City Opera debut in the role in 2002).  A recital tour in February and March takes her to eight cities including her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, as well as Chicago, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and, finally, New York – where she will make her Carnegie Hall main-stage recital debut on March 6.

Track list:
1.   “Je suis gris!” (Chérubin) from Massenet’s Chérubin (1905)
2.   “Giunse alfin il momento…” (Susanna) from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (1786)
3.   “Deh, vieni, non tardar” (Susanna) from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (1786)
4.   “Se mai senti spirarti sul volto” (Sesto) from Gluck’s La clemenza di Tito (1752)
5.   “Ecco il punto, o Vitellia…” (Vitellia) from Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito (1791)
6.   “Non più di fiori” (Vitellia) from Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito (1791)
7.   “Voi che sapete” (Cherubino) from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (1786)
8.   “Contro un cor” (Rosina) from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (1816)
9.   “Faites-lui mes aveux” (Siébel) from Gounod’s Faust (1859)
10. “D’amour l’ardente flame” (Marguerite) from Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust (1846)
11. “Premiers transports que nul n’oublie” from Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette (1839)
12. “Ascolta! Se Romeo t’uccise un figlio… La tremenda ultrice spada” (Romeo) from Bellini’s I Capuleti e
        i Montecchi (1830)
13. “Allez, laissez-moi seul… Coeur sans amour, printemps sans roses” (Le Prince Charmand) from
       Massenet’s Cendrillon (1899)
14. “Nacqui all’affanno” (Cenerentola) from Rossini’s La Cenerentola (1817)
15. “O frêle corps… Chère Cypris” (Ariane) from Massenet’s Ariane (1906)
16. “Seien wir wieder gut!” (Komponist) from Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (1916)
Joyce DiDonato mezzo-soprano
Orchestre et Choeur de l’Opéra National de Lyon / Kazushi Ono
Alan Woodbridge, chorus master
with Edgaras Montvidas, tenor; Nabil Suliman, baritone; Elena Semenova, soprano; Pascale Obrecht, mezzo-soprano; Paolo Stupenengo, bass



Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 22 and 25
David Fray, piano
Philharmonia Orchestra / Jaap van Zweden
CD and downloads available January 11 from EMI Classics


David Fray – named Instrumentalist of the Year in France’s Victoires de la Musique 2010 – continues his focus on Austro-German repertoire with his second Virgin Classics CD of keyboard concertos: Mozart’s Concertos Nos. 22 and 25, recorded with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra under Dutch violinist-turned-conductor, Jaap van Zweden.

Fray first performed with van Zweden at Amsterdam’s famed Concertgebouw, playing a keyboard concerto by Bach with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic.  Though Fray prefers to perform Bach’s keyboard concertos without a conductor – he has, in fact, recorded the concertos BWV 1052, 1055, 1056, and 1058 with Bremen’s German Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and no conductor – he found van Zweden to be a superb partner.  “He was so attentive,” says Fray, “and, as the former concert master of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he had an incredible way of working with the strings.”  After that experience, Fray thought working on Mozart together would be equally rewarding.

Fray and van Zweden will, in fact, perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 together when the pianist makes his debut with the Dallas Symphony on March 17-19 (van Zweden began his tenure as music director of the orchestra in 2008).  One month later, Fray makes his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 under the direction of Kurt Masur (April 21-23).

Fray performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 in his debut at New York’s Mostly Mozart festival this past summer.  James Oestreich wrote in the New York Times, “This work has more and deeper moods than some Mozart concertos, and Mr. Fray traced them knowingly at the second performance, on Saturday, ultimately emerging into pure Mozartean joy by way of a witty exit from the cadenza of the finale and a few late flourishes.“  David Fray made his New York recital debut in November at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall.  Anthony Tommasini reported in the New York Times, “Though his performances of works by Schubert and Bach on Tuesday night at Zankel Hall were musically refined and technically elegant, searching out the meditative qualities of the music was Mr. Fray’s top priority.”

Fray’s previous release for Virgin Classics was a solo program of Schubert keyboard works.  Critics from various publications praised the album, including BBC Music magazine, which wrote: “No Schubert-lover should miss this piano recital by David Fray.”  Britain’s Sunday Times noted: “These are wonderful performances by the young French pianist David Fray, a player with a beautiful touch and the finest control of dynamics and chording… . By taking his time, without ever weakening the music’s inexorable momentum, Fray fills every note with meaning, in such a way that we feel intensely each mercurial change of mood and color and texture, relish Schubert’s astonishing harmonic invention to the full, and relive the heartbreak, the ferocity, the elation, the visionary flights of these inexhaustible works.”  The Guardian called it “pianism of the highest class.”  David Stearns gave the album four stars in his Philadelphia Inquirer review, observing, “He [Fray]’s a hugely imaginative pianist given to Byronic flights, and has both the personality and fingers to pull it off.”


Gabriela Montero, piano
CD and downloads available January 11 from EMI Classics

“The Latin sound and the Latin rhythm are somehow embedded not just in me but in everybody from my part of the world: it’s such a popular style of music that everyone relates to it in one way or another.  A lot of composers have been influenced by it.”

Gabriela Montero

Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero is celebrated equally for her interpretations of classical repertoire, from Bach to Chopin and Rachmaninov, and her extraordinary improvisations.  In a new release from EMI Classics she devotes herself exclusively to works by Latin American composers.  For this vivid program she has selected 20 short works by six composers, complemented by Alberto Ginastera’s Piano Sonata No. 1 and five improvisations on Latin themes by Montero herself.

If the short, sparkling song-and-dance-based miniatures and the improvisations can be considered the “accompagnements,” the “meat” of the disc is the powerful Ginastera sonata.  “I have been playing it a lot in the last few years,” says Montero.  “I actually learned it while I was studying at the Royal Academy of Music with Hamish Milne but it has been with me most of my life; it is music that has great significance for me because, of course, I am Latin.”  The four-movement Sonata No. 1 was composed in 1952 and is generally considered to be Alberto Ginastera’s masterwork for the piano, demanding incredible virtuosity.  “The Ginastera sonata is a very enigmatic and at times mysterious and violent piece, very animalistic,” says Montero.  “In that respect it’s a different sound on the recording.”  The sonata makes enormous demands of the performer and uses to the full the rhythmical and tonal possibilities of the instrument.

“The other repertoire on the disc is lively and song-orientated,” says Montero, who has chosen works by the composers Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963) from Cuba; Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934) from Brazil; Antonío Estéves (1916-88); Teresa Carreno (1853-1917); and Moisés Moleiro (1904-79) from Venezuela, besides two of Ginastera’s American Preludes, Op. 12.  Montero notes, “For me this is music that is so alive that it transcends the written score.  When you approach it and you learn it and play it, you have to let go of all the pre-established notions of what is right and what is wrong.  You really have to dance with it.”

From Ernesto Lecuona, a prolific composer and popular pianist who wrote eleven film scores for Hollywood studios in the 1930s and ’40s, there are three movements, including “Malaguena,” from his most important piano work, Andalucía (Suite espanola), as well as five separate short works.  From Ernesto Nazareth, who Villa-Lobos described as “a true incarnation of the soul of musical Brazil,” there are four of his 300-plus short works for the piano, many with funny titles.  One of them, Odeon, is probably his best-known and recalls the cinema in Rio where he accompanied silent films.  From Antonio Estéves, who mixed elements from European masters with popular and nationalist Latin themes, there is a selection from 17 Piezas infantiles; from the beautiful, temperamental pianist Teresa Carreno is a little waltz, Mi Teresita, dedicated to her daughter.  In addition to the Sonata, Montero performs two short Ginastera pieces: the Pastorale and the Danza criolla.  She concludes her album with a favorite encore by Moisés Moleiro entitled Joropo, the joropo being a typically exuberant Venezuelan dance.

Montero will perform music featured on Solatino in recitals throughout the winter and spring, including performances in Toronto (Jan 28), Norfolk, VA (Jan 30), Chicago, IL (Feb 4), Miami, FL (Feb 11), Thomasville, GA (Feb 13), Tallahassee, FL (Feb 14), Eugene, OR (Apr 29), and San Francisco, CA (May 1).

Visit Gabriela Montero’s newly designed website for additional information:


Verdi: Simon Boccanegra
Plácido Domingo, baritone
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / Antonio Pappano
Two-DVD set available January 11 from EMI Classics
“Magnificent from start to finish.” – Financial Times


London’s Independent gave the Royal Opera House’s 2010 production of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra its top rating – five stars out of five – and called it the “crowning glory for triumphant Domingo.”  With the performance, Domingo extended his record for the most roles held by any singer by accomplishing a remarkable feat: the great Spanish tenor performed the title role, although Verdi wrote it for a baritone.

Great as Domingo’s achievement is, reviewers noted that a remarkably strong cast and conductor contributed to the success of this remarkable production.  Conducted by Antonio Pappano and directed by Elijah Moshinsky, Domingo is joined by Mariana Poplavskaya (recently profiled extensively by both the New Yorker and the New York Times), Joseph Calleja, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Jonathan Summers, and Lukas Jakobski.

The DVD release of Covent Garden’s Boccanegra features exclusive bonus material, including a “Back Stage with Plácido Domingo” featurette and an interview with the director.  There is an additional audio function that features introductions to each of the opera’s scenes in English with subtitles.

Simon Boccanegra is Verdi’s magnificent telling of a humble 14th-century Genoan who rises to become Doge of the great city.  The plot centers on the political intrigues between Boccanegra (Domingo) and his adversary, the aristocratic Jacopo Fiesco, and the discovery of his long-lost daughter, Amelia.  This story – though replete with an inevitable tragic conclusion – is ultimately one of hope, as the two great men are able to rise above their power-driven animosities to ensure peace among Genoa’s warring factions, by placing familial and civic love ahead of their individual desires.

Reviewing the new DVD, Andrew Clark gave the release a five-star rating in the Financial Times, observing: 

“Last season Plácido Domingo did the rounds of the world’s leading opera houses, singing the title role of a Verdi opera.  So what’s new?  Well, unlike Ernani, Don Carlo, and Otello, the Doge in Verdi’s great Genoese saga is a baritone, not a tenor.

“Now long past the summit of his career, Domingo needs additional challenges if he is to keep going.  He sang his Boccanegra at Covent Garden in June, and here is the result: magnificent from start to finish.  He makes the tenor-baritone distinction seem academic, because he sings every note as Domingo, with luster, gravitas, and style, compensating for the fact that the role never climbs those meltingly romantic heights that were for so long his domain.”


Vivaldi: Ercole su’l Termodonte
Rolando Villazón, Patrizia Ciofi, Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato, Vivica Genaux, Philippe Jaroussky, Romina Basso, Topi Lehtipuu
Europa Galante / Fabio Biondi
Available for download only on January 11 from Virgin Classics

Italian Baroque specialist Fabio Biondi conducts a dazzling cast of international stars in Vivaldi’s opera Ercole su’l Termodonte, first heard in Rome in 1723.

Biondi himself brought the score back to life, reconstructing it for performance in Venice in 2007, and subsequently in Paris in 2009.  Because no autograph score or contemporary copy of the opera was in existence, Biondi worked from the libretto printed for the first performances in Rome in 1723.  He was then able to identify various arias from other Vivaldi scores kept in libraries around Europe, principally in France and Germany.  In many cases, he also orchestrated the arias, extrapolating from their musical substance and his intimate knowledge of Vivaldi’s practice.  Where no source existed for an aria or chorus, he reconstructed the music by adapting and borrowing from other of the composer’s works.  He also composed all the recitatives.  The new recording will be available exclusively via download on January 11; the physical version will be available in February 2011.

Biondi is an internationally renowned and highly regarded conductor.  His Virgin Classics recording of Vivaldi’s opera Bajazet was nominated for a Grammy, and won multiple awards including the Grand Prix de l’Académie du Disque Lyrique in France, an ECHO Award in Germany, and a Midem Classical Award.

Caldara in Vienna: Forgotten Opera Arias (deluxe edition)
Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor
Concerto Köln / Emmanuelle Haïm
CD available January 25 from Virgin Classics

Virgin Classics is proud to release the deluxe edition of Philippe Jaroussky’s critically acclaimed release – Caldara in Vienna: Forgotten Opera Arias (the standard version of the release was issued in the US last month).  This exclusive deluxe edition is a 100-page hardcover booklet that includes Jaroussky’s notes from his own musicology research for the album.  The countertenor observes, “I’m always very curious and love to go to libraries.  When you are in direct contact with manuscripts, it’s like you are touching history; it’s important for me to do the research myself, to be in direct contact with the material.”

Caldara in Vienna: Forgotten Opera Arias is Jaroussky’s eighth solo album for Virgin Classics and his second recital to be conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm.  In this program, Jaroussky revives a number of forgotten works by the Venetian-born Antonio Caldara, who made his career in Mantua, Barcelona, Rome, and, finally, Vienna.  All the arias – several recorded for the very first time – come from operas with librettos by Metastasio (1698–1782), whose noble texts defined the genre of opera seria.

Gramophone selected Jaroussky’s new Caldara album as an “Editor’s Choice” in its January issue.  Editor James Inverne noted, “Philippe Jaroussky’s star is now firmly on the rise and one wonders how long it will be before he makes the jump from national stardom in France to being a huge box-office draw elsewhere.  This is a terrific disc.”

Jaroussky was recently profiled in a feature for the New York Times Magazine, available online here:


Special compilations, boxed sets, and reissues
Samson François: The Complete EMI Recordings
Samson François, piano
Specially priced 36-CD set available January 25 from EMI Classics
“Just as he lived his brief life on the edge, French pianist Samson François (1924-1970) brought unbridled passion, big technique, and a restless, creative mind to whatever music he touched.”
– Jed Distler, Classics Today


EMI Classics is proud to release the complete EMI recordings of one of the truly legendary pianists of the 20th century: Samson François.  This exclusive 36-CD boxed set includes all his early recordings, which were mainly devoted to Frédéric Chopin.  The height of François’s art is probably to be found in the Ballades (recorded October 26-28, 1954, and first issued as an immensely successful 10-inch LP) and in his dazzling interpretation of the Nocturnes (recorded in May and June 1966).

In the Ballades and Nocturnes, François establishes an all-embracing color with the aid of the loud pedal, although he modulates its power and creates a rainbow effect through the highly skilled, yet quite unpredictable use of the soft pedal.  This alternation between the two pedals lends his approach a sense of breathlessness.

Some critics have noted that François’s highly personal and imaginative approach to music-making had an almost improvisatory quality, so it comes as no surprise that he considered jazz to be among his greatest influences.  His recordings possess a thrilling vitality, spontaneity, and unpredictability – those same qualities found in his live performances.  “Like his one-time mentor Alfred Cortot,” Jed Distler observed in Classics Today, “François seemed to play for the moment rather than for all time when it came to the recording process.”

François’s life was abruptly cut short in 1970 at a tragically early age – he was 46 – but his inimitable style on and off the stage, and passionate embrace of life and work, brought him cult status that endures undiminished today.

100 Best Domingo
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Specially priced six-CD set and downloads available January 11 from EMI Classics

EMI Classics’ newest release in its enormously popular Best 100 series focuses on superstar tenor Plácido Domingo, who celebrates his 70th birthday this year (he was born in Madrid on January 21, 1941).  The specially priced six-CD set (six CDs for the price of one!) contains 100 tracks by one of the most remarkable artists to grace the opera and concert stage, a singular career that has included 130 opera roles and the phenomenal popular success he achieved, most notably as one of “The Three Tenors.” 

CD One is primarily a collection of arias and duets by Verdi.  Included are favorite items from Un ballo in maschera, La forza del destino, Don Carlo, Macbeth, Ernani, and Otello.  CD Two features highlights from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut and Tosca, and then moves on to arias from Boito’s Mefistofele and Mascagni’s Nerone.  CD Three starts with some favorite arias from French opera, including “Salut! demeure” from Gounod’s Faust and “O paradis” from Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine.  Also featured is Lensky’s Aria from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and four of Mozart’s most lyrical tenor arias.  On CD Four, we hear a completely different Domingo as he becomes a magnificent Heldentenor in scenes from three of Wagner’s great masterpieces: Götterdämmerung, Tristan und Isolde, and Rienzi.  In these, he is partnered by three of today’s finest sopranos: Deborah Voigt, Nina Stemme, and Violeta Urmana.  On CD Five, Domingo returns to his roots for a collection of arias from Spanish zarzuelas.  CD Six takes him into the field of popular music, with glorious performances of some of the best-known love songs from Spain, Latin America, and Hollywood.

Featured composers
CD 1: Verdi, Puccini
CD 2: Puccini, Boito, Mascagni
CD 3: Gounod, Meyerbeer, Massenet, Bizet, Saint-Saëns, Thomas, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky,
          Mozart, Sieczyński, Lehár
CD 4: Wagner
CD 5: Guerrero, Alonso, Sorozábal, Moreno Torroba, Bretón, Soutullo & Vert Carbonell,
          Serrano, Chapí, Alonso
CD 6: Brodzsky, Gade, Lai, Di Capua, Padilla, Robles, Jarre, Rodrigo, Kaempfert, Roig, Guerra,
          Perdomo, Yradier, Marin, Rigual, Diaz, Domingo Jr., Barcelata, Jimenez, Granda,
          Barroso, Ribeiro & Barro, Padilla, Pere 

Note: 50 Best Domingo is a special three-CD set of highlights from the 100 Best Domingo collection.  CD One is mainly a collection of arias and duets by Verdi.  CD Two features highlights from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut and Tosca as well as arias from Boito’s Mefistofele and Mascagni’s Nerone, plus the delightful “Cherry Duet” from Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz.  CD Three starts with some favorite arias from French opera, including “Salut! demeure” from Gounod’s Faust and “O paradis” from Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine.  It continues with Lensky’s Aria from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and ends with tenor arias from Mozart operas and two Viennese bon-bons from the operetta Das Land des Lächelns.

Passion: The Love Album
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Two-CD set and downloads available January 11 from EMI Classics


Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this two-CD set features one of the greatest tenors of this or any other age, Plácido Domingo, performing love songs from the world of popular music.  The songs, which originate from Spain, Latin America, and Hollywood, include many that have been international hits in both their original and translated forms, such as “Quiéreme mucho” (known in English as “Yours”), “Aquarela do Brasil” (“Brazil”), “Vereda tropical” (“Havana for a Night”), “Maria Elena,” “La paloma,” and “Guantanamera.”  Passion: The Love Album concludes with a signature Domingo encore, “Granada,” recorded live in front of a huge and enthusiastic audience.  All the songs are presented in colorful Latin arrangements that enhance this magnificent collection of love songs.

100 Best Children’s Classics
Various artists
Specially priced six-CD set and downloads available January 11 from EMI Classics

The many wonders of childhood are brought vividly to life in this Best 100 collection.  Like other releases in the Best 100 series, the special price (six CDs for the price of one) make this a superb value for families, providing many hours of captivating music performed by a who’s who of great musicians.

CD 1: CARNIVAL: works by Camille Saint-Saëns, Prokofiev, Britten, and Rimsky-Korsakov
CD 2: TOYS: charming works about children and their toys by composers including Fauré,
          Debussy, Bizet, Mozart, Pierné, and Tchaikovsky
CD 3: NATURE: The joy, excitement, and beauty of nature as heard in “Morning” from Grieg’s
          Peer Gynt, as well as works by Smetana, Beethoven, Chopin, Vivaldi, and Grainger
CD 4: FANTASY: Works that fire the imagination with their descriptive powers, including music
          from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mussorgsky’s A Night on the Bare
          Mountain and Pictures at an Exhibition, “Uranus, the Magician” from Holst’s The Planets,
          and Dukas’s L’apprenti sorcier
CD 5: LULLABIES: A disc of purely relaxing classics – perfect for bedtime
CD 6: DANCE: Some of the best-loved dance-inspired works, ranging from Tchaikovsky’s
          charming “Dance of the Little Swans” to Ravel’s Boléro.

100 Best Vienna Philharmonic
Vienna Philharmonic with various conductors
Specially priced six-CD set and downloads available January 11 from EMI Classics

The third Best 100 collection from EMI Classics this month features 100 tracks from the finest recordings by the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by such great podium masters as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Kempe, André Cluytens, and Riccardo Muti.  Like other releases in the series, the special price (six CDs for the price of one) makes it one of the greatest values on the market.

CD 1: THE STRAUSS FAMILY: Works by Johann Strauss II and other members of his family
CD 2: AT THE THEATRE: Great orchestral pieces drawn from the operatic repertoire
CD 3: IN RUSSIA: A selection of great works by Russian composers
CD 4: ON HOLIDAY: This disc takes its name from a famous LP released by the Vienna
          Philharmonic Orchestra, and features works by composers from all over the world.
CD 5: CLASSICAL MASTERS: Works by the greatest Austrian and German composers of the
          Classical period
CD 6: VIENNESE HERITAGE: The final disc in the set surveys a group of composers, most
          notably Brahms, Bruckner, and Mahler, who had special associations with Vienna.


Ballet Edition
Eight new releases
Two-CD sets and downloads available January 11 from EMI Classics

The second installment in EMI Classics’ Ballet Edition features eight two-CD sets drawn from the EMI Classics and Virgin Classics catalogs (titles and artists listed below).  The sets feature complete ballets by the great masters of the genre, as well as special thematic compilations.  EMI’s previous release in the series included the first ten two-CD sets as well as a 50-CD boxed set, A Festival of Ballet, and a “greatest hits” collection entitled I Love Ballet.

Ballet Adagios: This set comprises scenes from various ballets conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, John Lanchbery, Sir Charles Mackerras, André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, and Lovro von Matacić.

Balanchine Ballets: A tribute to one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century, George Balanchine, this set features the first-full length abstract ballet, Jewels, which premiered in New York in 1967 with music by Fauré, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky.  Other works include Balanchine’s signature American work, Serenade (to music by Tchaikovsky), his setting of Tchaikovsky’s uncompleted Piano Concerto No. 3 (Allegro Brillante), and his inspired version of Bizet’s Symphony in C.  Conductors include Rudolf Barshai, Sir Thomas Beecham, Richard Hickox, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, and Michel Plasson.

Copland and Bernstein: Leonard Slatkin and Edo de Waart conduct great American ballets including Copland’s Billy the Kid and Appalachian Spring and Bernstein’s Fancy Free and Facsimile, as well as extracts from other works, such as Bernstein’s explosive Symphonic Dances from his smash hit musical West Side Story.

Essential Ballet: This set presents a collection of many of the best-known and most familiar items from the whole spectrum of classical ballet.  It starts with the “swan theme” from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and encompasses other famous “white” ballets like Adam’s Giselle and Chopin’s Les Sylphides as well as Prokofiev’s two classic love stories: Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella.  Lively and colorful music is heard from Coppélia, La fille mal gardée, and Gayaneh; witty sophistication is represented by Poulenc’s Les Biches and Satie’s Monotones.  Stravinsky’s unique musical style is heard in extracts from Petrushka and Apollo and pure dance in Franck’s Symphonic Variations, the waltz from Tchaikovsky’s Serenade, and the glorious finale from Bizet’s Symphony in C that ends the program.  Conductors include Richard Hickox, John Lanchbery, Sir Charles Mackerras, Michel Plasson, André Previn, and Sir Simon Rattle.

French Ballets: Four quintessentially French scores, conducted by John Lanchbery, Sir Charles Mackerras, Georges Pretre, and Manuel Rosenthal make up this set.  Gaiety abounds in Offenbach’s frothy music that conductor Manuel Rosenthal arranged for Leonide Massine’s ballet Gaité Parisienne.  Poulenc’s score for Les Biches perfectly encapsulates the mood and spirit of the madcap 1920s in France, and Messager’s charming music for The Two Pigeons paints a glowing picture of young love in the studio of a Parisian artist.  The final ballet, Les Patineurs, uses music by the French operatic composer Meyerbeer as a vehicle for Frederick Ashton’s light-hearted evocation of fun and games on the ice of a frozen pond in winter.

Minkus and Friends: Renowned ballet conductor John Lanchbery conducts music by Ludwig Minkus, who composed some of the most important full-length ballet scores of the golden age of classical ballet in Russia, in the second half of the 19th century.  His works, which often involved exotic settings like Spain and India, included Don Quixote and La Bayadère, and he frequently contributed additional music to existing ballets such as Paquita; extracts from all three are heard on this set.  Minkus’s successor was Riccardo Drigo, who also wrote extra numbers for existing ballets, such as a pas de deux for Le Corsaire, which has firmly established itself as a showpiece in its own right, independent of the complete Corsaire.  The other works included were composed variously by three Danish composers (Holger Paulli, Edvard Helsted, and Niels Gade), who all wrote works for the great Danish choreographer August Bournonville.

The Great Pas de Deux: The pas de deux is the heart of any classical ballet.  It is the climactic section when the two principal dancers – the ballerina and her partner – show off their technical skills in a display of pure dancing that excites and moves the audience to rapturous applause.  It usually consists of an entrance section for the two dancers, often going on to a technically demanding adagio that rises to a powerful climax.  The first two items in this album from Le Corsaire and Don Quixote both begin in this way.  Then the two dancers have a brief solo section called a variation, intended to show their individual skills.  Finally they come together in a rousing finale, for which they usually save their most spectacular feats, including breathtaking leaps, whirlwind pirouettes, and heart-stopping fish dives.  There can be variations on this structure, but the pas de deux must always give the two principal dancers their moment of glory and the audience its chance to show its full appreciation of their talents.  This program is a veritable cornucopia of favorite pas de deux from all the great ballets of the world.  Conductors include Terence Kern, John Lanchbery, Sir Charles Mackerras, and André Previn. 

Tchaikovsky: This album features a condensed version of the dramatic ballet Onegin, created by John Cranko in Stuttgart and now performed by major companies all over the world.  It uses piano music by Tchaikovsky, arranged and orchestrated by Kurt-Heinz Stolze.  The rest of the program consists of three major ballets choreographed by George Balanchine, drawn from extracts from Tchaikovsky’s Suite for Orchestra, No. 3 in G (Theme and Variations) and his Symphony No. 3 in D “Polish” (as used for “Diamonds” in Jewels), plus the complete version of his Piano Concerto No. 2 in G (Ballet Imperial).  Conductors include Rudolf Barshai, John Lanchbery, Riccado Muti, and Lovro von Matacić.


EMI Classics and Virgin Classics artists on tour

Jan 17
Karl Jenkins: Stabat Mater and Gloria (US premiere)
Concert for Peace – Celebrating the Spirit of Martin Luther King
Carnegie Hall (New York, NY)
Jan 19
Christina Pluhar and L’Arpeggiata: Baroque Variations
Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles, CA)
Jan 22 – Feb 6
Joyce DiDonato: Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (Sister Helen Prejean)
Houston Grand Opera (Houston, TX)
Jan 28
Gabriela Montero: recital
Glenn Gould Hall (Toronto, ON)
Jan 30
Gabriela Montero: recital
Virginia Arts Festival (Norfolk, VA)
Feb 4
Gabriela Montero: recital
Harris Theater (Chicago, IL)
Feb 5
Karl Jenkins: Stabat Mater
Norwalk Concert Hall (East Norwalk, CT)
Feb 8
Joyce DiDonato: recital
Bass Performance Hall (Forth Worth, TX)
Feb 11
Joyce DiDonato: recital
Broad Stage Recital Series (Santa Monica, CA)
Feb 11
Gabriela Montero: recital
Olympia Theater at Gusman Center (Miami, FL)
Feb 13
Joyce DiDonato: recital
Harriman-Jewell Series (Kansas City, MO)
Feb 13
Gabriela Montero: recital
Pebble Hill Plantation (Thomasville, GA)
Feb 14
Gabriela Montero: recital
Turner Auditorium at Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
Feb 15
Joyce DiDonato: recital
Vocal Arts Society (Washington, DC)
Feb 17–19
Leif Ove Andsnes: Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2
Chicago Symphony / Muti (Chicago, IL)
Feb 18
Joyce DiDonato: recital
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Feb 18–20
Gautier Capuçon: Schumann’s Cello Concerto
Los Angeles Philharmonic / Lionel Bringuier (Los Angeles, CA)
Feb 18 – Mar 5
Lawrence Brownlee: Rossini’s Armida
Metropolitan Opera (New York, NY)
Feb 20
Joyce DiDonato: recital
Spivey Hall (Atlanta, GA)
Feb 27
Xuefei Yang: recital
RiverCenter for the Performing Arts (Columbus, OH)
Feb 27
Ingrid Fliter: recital
92nd Street Y Tisch Center for the Arts (New York, NY)
Feb 28
Joyce DiDonato: recital
Perelman Theater (Philadelphia, PA)
March 3–26
Angela Gheorghiu: Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette
Metropolitan Opera (New York, NY)
March 4–6
Gabriela Montero: Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Houston Symphony Orchestra / Juanjo Mena (Houston, TX)
March 5
Xuefei Yang: recital
Northwest Hills United Methodist Church (Austin, TX)
March 6
Joyce DiDonato: recital
Carnegie Hall – Stern Auditorium recital debut (New York, NY)
March 13
Karl Jenkins: The Armed Man
Hale Middle School (Stow, MA)
March 17–19
David Fray: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25
Dallas Symphony Orchestra (debut) / Jaap van Zweden (Dallas, TX)
March 20 – April 30
Diana Damrau: Rossini’s Le comte Ory
Metropolitan Opera (New York, NY)
March 24 – April 21
Joyce DiDonato: Rossini’s Le comte Ory (Isolier) (new production/role debut)
Metropolitan Opera (New York, NY)
March 25 & 26
Kate Royal: scenes from Adès’s The Tempest
Boston Symphony Orchestra (Boston, MA)
March 26
Joyce DiDonato: gala concert with Sam Ramey and Alan Held
Wichita Grand Opera (Wichita, KS)
March 30 – April 2
Yundi: Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1
San Francisco Symphony / Blomstedt (San Francisco, CA)
March 31
Ebène Quartet: Ravel, Fauré, Debussy
Savannah Music Festival (Savannah, GA)
April 2
Ebène Quartet: Mozart, Bartók, Debussy
Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music (Syracuse, NY)
April 3
Ebène Quartet: Ravel, Bartók, Debussy
People’s Symphony Concert, Town Hall (New York, NY)
April 5
Ebène Quartet: Bartók, Debussy, jazz improvisations
Rhode Island Chamber Music Society (Barrington, RI)
April 6
Ebène Quartet: Mozart, Debussy, Mendelssohn
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts at University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
April 7
Ebène Quartet: Ravel, Bartók, Debussy
Philadelphia Chamber Music Society (Philadelphia, PA)
April 8
Ebène Quartet: Mozart, Bartók, Mendelssohn
Carnegie Hall – Weill Hall (New York, NY)
April 9 & 10
Gabriela Montero: Schumann’s Piano Concerto
Cape Cod Symphony (Yarmouth Port, MA)
April 10
Ebène Quartet: repertoire TBA
Ladies Morning Musical Club (Montreal, Canada)
April 11
Ebène Quartet: Bartók, Debussy, jazz improvisations
University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada)
April 13
Ebène Quartet: Mozart, Bartók, Mendelssohn
Ensemble Music Society
Basile Theatre at the Glick Indiana History Center (Indianapolis, IN)
April 14
Ebène Quartet: Ravel, Fauré, Mendelssohn
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (Urbana, IL)
April 15
Ebène Quartet: Ravel, Fauré, Debussy
Da Camera of Houston (Houston, TX)
April 16 & 17
Gabriela Montero: Schumann’s Piano Concerto
Spokane Symphony (Spokane, WA)
April 17
Ebène Quartet: Mozart, Bartók, Mendelssohn
University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
April 21–23
David Fray: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2
Cleveland Orchestra (debut) / Kurt Masur (Cleveland, OH)
April 29 – May 14
Kate Royal: Gluck’s Orfeo e Euridice (house debut)
Metropolitan Opera (New York, NY)
April 29
Gabriela Montero: recital
Jaqua Concert Hall (Eugene, OR)
May 1
Gabriela Montero: recital
Florence Gould Theater (San Francisco, CA)
May 6
Gabriela Montero: Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue
ProMusica Chamber Orchestra (Columbus, OH)
May 7, 10, & 13
Joyce DiDonato: R. Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (Composer) (house role debut)
Metropolitan Opera (New York, NY)
May 29 – July 3
Nina Stemme: Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen
San Francisco Opera (San Francisco, CA)
June 1 & 2
Gabriela Montero: Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Toronto Symphony / Peter Oundjian (Toronto, Canada)
June 2–5
Gautier and Renaud Capuçon: Brahms’s Double Concerto
Los Angeles Philharmonic / Dudamel (Los Angeles, CA)
June 4
Gabriela Montero: recital
Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival (Amelia Island, FL)
June 10
Gabriela Montero: Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto
Dallas Symphony Orchestra (Dallas, TX)

For further information:

Visit EMI Classics’ YouTube channel for video previews of many of its new and recent releases:


Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group: (212) 625-2038, [email protected]

Andrew Ousley, EMI Classics: (212) 786-8607, [email protected]

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© 21C Media Group, January 2011

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